Get a Load of This
by Blythe Winslow
I tell my wife Marta to Get a load of this, because it's what she needs. The load I'm speaking of is a load of babies brought by the Baby Man selling babies out of a truck that says Baby Emporium on the side. White van, old script, Baby Man with his steadfast blue uniform and embroidered nametag (here, this time, "Seth")."I'm hungry, and I want to have a dinner party," Marta says, and so we both go outside and she orders two babies.
The pricing is unclear. Seth says babies can be expensive, and then he raises his eyebrows as if we should know what that means.
"You pay me something now, and then maybe I'll come back for more."
Seth looks like the kind of person who is recurring and serious. Marta gives him three twenty-dollar bills.
"I'm not sure that's enough," Seth says, swinging open the back of his van. "But it'll do for now."
Marta is drooling.
"That's embarrassing," I tell her, and she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.
The babies are all taut and the skin pulled over their legs and arms glisten. Their cheeks are little pearl onions and their fingers, little lengths of uncooked cookie dough. Their heads are dented and fitted with knit hats.
Seth puts two babies in a vegetable crate and hands them over. The babies' eyes are watery and their mouths are pursed as little pieces of cut tomato.
Inside, Marta puts the babies down and pulls a skillet from the cabinet. She says, "Call the neighbors. At least two couples."
"I'm not hungry," I say, and then I pick up one of the babies and put it on the couch. It immediately grabs for the throw blanket and begins to hump it.
"This baby's going at our blanket," I tell Marta as she sharpens a knife.
"That's fine," she says. "And it doesn't matter if you're hungry because I am and I'm sure the neighbors are."
We've never ordered babies before. Marta has just been promoted and now I can tell she's looking for other things to do. We've just signed a lease on a car, too, and our house is close to painted and updated.
"The baby thing was inevitable, I guess," I say.
The humping baby is still humping.
Marta walks into the living room from the kitchen and stands with her hands on her hips.
"I've never seen anything like it," she says. She wags her head.
"It's scary," I say, and this is really true. The baby's eyes are closed and it's humping faster now, smiling a little as it pleases itself.
"It's clearly humping?" I ask Marta.
"I guess so," Marta says.
"I guess I knew that babies did that," I say.
Marta picks up the other baby and smooths her hand over its dark hair.
"I'm guessing they're about a year old," she says. "And what the fuck is that baby doing?" she says.
The baby's humping sends it off the couch and onto the floor. It lands with a thud that shakes the chandelier in the dining room.
"I don't know," I say. "I don't know."
We watch the baby hump for at least three minutes straight.
"I don't know if I'm hungry anymore," Marta says.
"I can see why."
"It's just wrong," she says. "There's something wrong. I can't look. I'm going to take a shower and when I come back this better be over."
She puts the dark-haired baby back in the crate and walks upstairs. I close my eyes and hope that the humping baby stops humping soon, even though it looks very happy and singularly determined. I decide that yes, it's the baby's determination that scares me, and that if and when we eat the babies and serve them to our neighbors, I'll tell Marta to kill the humping baby first.
Blythe Winslow teaches English at the University of Cincinnati and co-edits the online literary journal Twelve Stories. She received her MFA from UNC Greensboro and her fiction has appeared in New Delta Review, Monkeybicycle, and DOGZPLOT. She lives online at www.blythewinslow.com.